Another chapter starts

Another chapter starts

At 6 a.m. I slowly crawled out of bed as my alarm woke me Monday. Pure excitement washed over me as I got ready for my first day as the new editor of the Sanibel-Captiva Islander.

I was leaving to go to work. I was heading to an office where I would be working with others. My streak of working only out of my home doing freelance work came to an end that morning.

The hardest part of Monday was saying goodbye to my little puppy who I have spent pretty much every day with since we adopted her in April 2014. The look she gave me as I closed the garage door made me smile as memories flooded of the time we have spent together. My heart broke a little knowing that she will now spend a good portion of the day alone.

The goodbye with Jason carried me through the jitters of my first day. He always knows the right thing to say at the right moment. His excitement shined through his sleepy words and his sweet smile as he looked into my eyes. For the first time in two years, I was the one who kissed Jason goodbye, wishing him a good day as I left and went to work.  As I walked out of our bedroom, a smile swept across my face.

It’s true I have the support of a beautiful man. A man that has continued to share how proud he is of me through my career changes over the past almost six years.

That morning reminded me of a day in September 2009. I moved back to Fort Myers from Arizona a few months prior and began a job search. After a few months, I found a listing for the Cape Coral Daily Breeze and went in for an interview. I was at Jason’s place when I got the phone call . . . I was hired as a new reporter for the paper. The excitement he shared with me that day was beyond supportive. A memory that still makes me smile.

The sky was blue with typical Florida temperatures engulfing the car as my drive to work began before 7 a.m. earlier this week. It was the most relaxing 40-minute drive. As soon as I crossed the toll for Sanibel my shoulders relaxed and my back hugged the seat a little more as I took in the view of the water. Cars were already parked along the causeway as another beautiful day unfolded. I stopped where no other cars were parked next to the water, took a picture and breathed in the salt water before continuing my trip to the office.

First day at Islander

I did it. I was offered a full-time position, a position that will allow my passion of writing to continue.

The same smile I had after walking out of our bedroom surfaced again as I opened the door to the office. It remained as I introduced myself to Craig who I am replacing.

We shared information about ourselves before diving into the responsibilities I will be taking over come Monday morning.

I honestly felt like I was home again. As I sat in his office, soon to be mine, the passion of my craft consumed me. I am faced with another challenge . . . well opportunity . . . of making another newspaper into a great weekly sharing the news and stories of the island.

One of the true beauties of this career is the endless opportunities it provides in getting to know, fully diving deep into the character of a community. Although I grew up in Southwest Florida and have spent time on Sanibel, I really do not know the community well. Now, working on the island I have the opportunity to really get to know what makes this area a destination for so many.

My first day sped by relatively fast. It was absolutely perfect. That smile remained throughout the entire day. I was introduced to people, got some leads on stories and had the opportunity to see some of the beautiful island.

That night Jason, Lucy and I went to Fort Myers Beach to embark on one of my favorite past times. We stopped at Publix and I ordered us subs before we headed to our destination. We used to eat dinner on the beach while watching the sunset before we left for Tennessee.

Before we left the house it started raining, but since we live in Florida we ran to the car and hoped for the best. It rained on and off the entire drive to the beach. We ended up eating dinner in the car waiting for the showers to finish.

Fortunately the rain stopped and an incredible sunset covered the night sky.

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That night was the first time Lucy truly got to experience the beach. Although she was extremely hesitant of the water, Jason and I eventually encouraged her to get her feet wet.

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It was a perfect ending to a perfect day.

The next few days were just as successful as the first.

There is truly no better feeling than working in an office with others who have the same passion as mine. It’s nice to be surrounded by others, instead of being isolated in my home interviewing people over the phone.

Another perk of working on Sanibel came to fruition Thursday night on my way home. For the first time since Jason and I started dating we work in the same area. So, before I left the island I stopped by Jerry’s where he cooks and said hello.

With our hours, most of the time we only get to see each other at the end of the day, when I’m falling asleep on the couch waiting for him to come home.

Although it was a brief visit, it was great to see him.

With a smile on my face I began driving off the island when a rainbow caught my attention. The water began calling my name, so I decided to stop on the causeway and get out of the car. The weather was perfect at that moment as my hair started flying in every direction with the wind coming off the water. I stood there taking in the scenery, smelling the salt water and listening to the wave’s crash against the shore. I probably stood there for 15 to 20 minutes.

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As I climbed back into my car I was completely relaxed as I drove the rest of the way home. It was at that moment that I truly felt grateful for the life Jason and I have. At that moment I began thinking about my journalism career here in Southwest Florida.

Since September 2009, my editor Val has taken care of me. I have gained heaps of experience as my duties change as a new position opened.

When I shared I would be moving to NE Tennessee in 2013, she kept me on as a freelance reporter. A phone call sharing that Jason and I were moving back to Florida offered her word in keeping me busy with freelance work until something full-time popped up. Val kept to her word. My workload tripled for the Cape Coral Daily Breeze as a freelance reporter.

Last week my world changed when I received an email from Val asking me to call her. That phone call, which led to a meeting in her office, was another promise kept.

I love what the beginning of this new chapter has offered so far. I’m excited to fully dig in next week when I no longer have to shadow the editor who is here now.

I firmly believe that our move back to Southwest Florida was meant to be. I continue to feel myself relax while the stress diminishes.

This week, although has worn me out, has been one of the best week’s I have had in a long time. I’ve met some really nice people, have seen some beautiful places and have contributed articles to a newspaper that will soon be filled with my byline.

“Families are our foundation”

Hill prepares for re-election fight

Published in the Herald & Tribune June 25, 2014 issue

Matthew Hill, Jonesborough’s Republican State Representative, recently launched his campaign for re-election.

“I really, really enjoy my job, and I enjoy helping people. I enjoy the ability to represent my community and my home in Nashville and stand up and fight for our values every single day,” he said of why he is seeking re-election.

Hill will face local businessman Phil Carriger in the State Primary on Thursday, Aug. 7.

Hill, who grew up in Sullivan County, moved to Washington County 11 years ago. He lives in Jonesborough with his wife, whom he has been married to for 12 years, as well as his two children.

Hill sees his family as a blessing.

“Families are our foundation, and my faith is very important to me,” he said. “My faith is first and my family is second. It has always been that way.

“My faith motivates me to love and take care of the family the best I can. I love my family, my wife and my kids. They are everything to me, they really are.”

The importance of family is the platform of his campaign.

“When they vote for me, they know they have someone that is fighting for them and fighting for their family every single day,” Hill said.

Instead of seeking a new strategy for being re-elected, he said he is doing the same thing he has done in the past — knocking on a couple thousand doors.

“I love knocking on doors because I can meet people face-to-face, one-on-one, and listen to their concerns,” Hill said. “It’s a very time-consuming task, but it’s worth it. I enjoy meeting with people and talking with people and telling them what I am working on and asking for their vote and support.”

If re-elected, his number one goal is to continue to have an open door policy. He explained that being accessible to all of his contingents no matter where they live or who they are is important.

Hill said he will continue to fight and defend family values in balanced budgets and lower taxes, which will create jobs in the State of Tennessee.

“The economy is picking up, and businesses are hiring,” he said. “The legislature can create an environment where jobs can be created.”

Last week, Hill held a job fair at Carver Recreation Center in Johnson City, which he rated as a huge success. He said more than 250 people attended the job fair and applied for jobs, and more than 24 employers were in attendance.

“This is the third job fair I have done,” Hill said, adding that he will continue to hold the job fairs if they receive participation from the community.

His motto is to “roll your sleeves up and get involved in the community and do as much as we can.”

A blowout Community Day, which will be held from 4-7 p.m. Saturday, July 12, at Telford Diner, is another example of his community involvement. He said the free event will feature a barbeque, music and cotton candy.

On Tuesday, June 24, Hill and State Rep. Micah Van Huss of Johnson City will also hold a joint telephone town hall beginning at 7 p.m. Listeners will have the opportunity to ask questions, as well as share concerns they may have. The live tele-town is free and open to the public. Those interested can pick up the phone when it rings, which will automatically connect them, or they can call 1-877-229-8493 and dial the access code 16194#.

Hill said citizens should vote for him because he stands up for Washington County and Washington County families.

“As their state representative, I am fighting for them, fighting for their values and second amendment rights and that is why I would be honored and humbled to have their votes and support,” he said.

 

Dreams do come true

Today was simply amazing, there is no other word to describe the day as a whole.

After walking out of the Bristol Herald Courier I could not help but smile. As soon as I sat down in my car I instantly sent Jason and mom the same text because they are my biggest supporters.

Wow, I’m beyond excited to join another paper as a reporter.

I spent about an hour and a half at the paper for my orientation this morning. I was introduced to countless people who were incredibly nice. One woman said she has been with the paper for 44 years, which to me only speaks volumes of the company. Everyone offered a helping hand if and when I needed assistance. They all made me feel incredibly welcomed and all shared what seemed like a genuine excitement about me joining the team.

The best part was saying “see you tomorrow” when I was leaving.

I have to admit I was reluctant at first to the idea of moving to Tennessee away from everything and everyone I know. The more Jason and I talked, two years to be precise, the more I eventually jumped on board. Jason believed in us, he believed our dream of making a home would be fulfilled in Tennessee.

My emotions were sky high once I returned home, I was bursting at the seams of what I have accomplished. I had to share my excitement, which was sent through text since Jason was working a double. I shared how much I love him and how grateful I am that we took that leap of faith. Our dream of finding a new place to live, a place we can call home, is no longer a dream, it’s a reality. This area is us … all because the outdoor adventures are endless.

It brings tears to my eyes to think of the struggles we had once we arrived and how far we have come since. We believed in ourselves and each other. We fought for the reason we decided to move more than 800 miles away from family – making a life and home for ourselves in an area that is absolutely breathtaking – our own outdoor playground so to speak.

Since arriving in Tennessee I have found a way to write for five publications in Florida, four in Arizona and now one in Virginia. That’s pretty exciting to think about!

Now that we both found really good jobs we are beginning to talk about our next home, a house somewhere beautiful between where we both work. A home, not an apartment, a home!

I have grown leaps and bounds since arriving, which is empowering and exciting. I have a man who believes in me, pushes me and supports me, by my side … which makes anything possible.

My love for this man runs incredibly deep. I hope he knows just how much he means to me. He has taken the time to get to know me, really get to know me, which has made our transition easier here in Tennessee.

Dreams do come true …you just have to grab a hold of the vision and take the steps to make it happen no matter how scary it may seem.

Thank you for everything babe. I could not imagine taking this journey with anyone else.

Mother’s

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There can be an incredible bond formed between a mother and daughter, one I am very fortunate to have.

A mother of six children, she is one of the most unselfish people I know. Always giving, always doing what she can for her family, always in a positive manner when possible.

Through the good times and bad times, my mother has always been there for me. When I needed encouragement, she was the first to provide those meaningful helpful words. When something exciting takes place she is among the first to know and first to cheer me on.

I really do not know what I would have done through some of the trying times without her by my side.

When I look back and reflect on my childhood, our house was always full of so much love.

The best part of this woman is how much she understands me, how much she understands all of her children.

One of my fondest memories was the encouragement I received from her as I was filling out my freshman schedule for high school. She continued to support me through college when I struggled, she kept pushing me along, fighting for my dream. Because of her attention to detail, I found a career that I become more passionate about every day … journalism.

A bond between a mother and daughter has flourished into a friendship that means the absolute world to me.

The love and admiration I have for this woman is unexplainable. Although yesterday was mothers day, I try and share how much this incredible woman means to me everyday.

A mother, a friend, an incredible person. I love you mom!